Lakeside Nature Center

About the Lakeside Nature Center

Lakeside Nature Center is located at 4701 East Gregory Boulevard in Kansas City, Missouri’s Swope Park. It is owned and managed by Kansas City, Missouri Parks and Recreation Department. Email us at contact@lakesidenaturecenter.org. Check our hours here.

Swope Park is an 1,800 acre wooded park that also houses the Kansas City Zoo, Starlight Theatre, Blue River Golf Course, Swope Memorial Golf Course, a Disc Golf Course, Swope Park Pool, ball fields, picnic areas, and a pond for fishing. Additionally, the Blue River winds through the Park.

Lakeside Nature Center is an incredible place to enjoy learning about local native wildlife, including birds of prey, snakes, amphibians, turtles, fish, and invertebrates. Whether you wish to explore the exhibits on your own, or sign up for a wildlife program, your visit is certain to be enjoyable. Need a map to find us?

Learn more about the Lakeside Birds of Prey.

Meet the oldest resident at Lakeside Nature Center; Wilma the ornate box turtle.

Identify the wildflowers in the Prairie, Savannah and Butterfly Gardens that surround Lakeside.

Hike our trails and revel in the peaceful beauty of the site.

Friends of Lakeside Nature Center supports the Nature Center by providing volunteers and funding to assist with exhibits, programs, and wildlife rehabilitation.


Mission Statement

Lakeside Nature Center provides educational and recreational activities focusing on environmental awareness and conservation of native plants and animals and their habitats.


History

RECENT HISTORY

Lakeside Nature Center is located at 4701 E. Gregory Blvd. in Swope Park. The award winning facility, designed by International Architects Atlier, Inc., opened in 1999. Huge windows allow you to feel as though you’re on a walk through the woods as you explore the exciting displays. Large aquariums with fish and turtles, a Bald Eagle exhibit, a weathering area with owls and hawks, and numerous snake displays invite visitors to take their time learning about our native wildlife. The building was funded through donations from Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Friends of Lakeside Nature Center, and City of Kansas City, Missouri.

Naturalists care for the wildlife and present a variety of educational programs for individuals and groups. Classes are presented in the Nature Center Classroom, on the nearby trail, on the marsh trail, and at the Camp Lake of the Woods facilities, all also in Swope Park.

Lakeside Nature Center has the second largest wildlife rehabilitation program in the state and is the only one in Missouri to combine wildlife rehabilitation with extensive environmental education programming.

PAST HISTORY

In 1966, Lakeside Nature Center opened in an old concession stand in Swope Park that was built in 1931 as a WPA project. At the time, it was the only facility in Missouri to house live native mammals, reptiles, and birds of prey where the visitors could stand within inches of the animals. Swope Park, donated in 1896 by Thomas H. Swope, was Kansas City’s playground. The Park continues to develop through today.

Environmental education was in its infancy. A group of forward thinking citizens, biologists, and educators provided resident camps, habitat exploration, and environmental science classes in the Camp Lake of the Woods area near Lakeside Nature Center.
The tradition continues as Lakeside Nature Center Naturalists use the new facility and Camp Lake of the Woods area to offer unique experiences so everyone can enjoy the wilderness. Both upland and lowland forests are the Park’s primary features, along with the Bethany Falls Limestone cliffs and the Blue River. Biologically speaking, Swope Park has much to see and explore.

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